Tunisia’s parliament has confirmed a cabinet reshuffle amid growing unrest that deepened an existing conflict between the prime minister and the president, as hundreds protested outside the heavily barricaded parliament over social inequality and police abuses.
Water cannons were used by riot police on protesters outside the parliament, in an attempt to quell the largest rally since demonstrations began this month.
Protesters in their hundreds had marched from the Ettadhamen district of the capital, Tunis, where young people have clashed with police several nights this month, and hundreds more joined the protesters near the parliament.
11 new ministers were named by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi who said he hoped it would inject new blood into his government.
” Young people protesting outside parliament reminds us of our priorities. Their protests are legitimate and the government will listen to the angry youth,” he said.
Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi told the assembly that by naming 11 new ministers to the interior, which included justice, health and other key portfolios, he aimed to create a “more effective” reform team.
However, President Kais Saied indicated on Monday that he would reject the cabinet reshuffle, largely condemning the absence of women among the new ministers and said there may be conflicts of interest among some of the new Cabinet members.
Last year, President Saied appointed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi but has taken issue with some of his moves. The president said he would not swear in any ministers suspected of corruption.
Riot police mounted barricades to prevent protesters approaching the parliament building where lawmakers were debating the government reshuffle.
The parliamentary session came a day after protesters clashed with police in the town of Sbeitla, in Tunisia’s marginalized center, following the death of a 20-year-old man who was hit by a tear gas canister last week.
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